Tag Archives: Wolverine

X-Men #3 – Review


X-MEN #3

Written by: Gerry Duggan
Art: Pepe Larraz
Colours: Marte Gracia

Released: 22/09/2021
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The X-Men have always spearheaded the weirder end of the Marvel universe (they’re not called ‘Uncanny’ for nothing!) and this has always been one of their greatest strengths. After a couple of issues that have been relatively straightforward as far as Marvel’s mutants are concerned (although excellent nonetheless), Gerry Duggan begins to lean into the bizarre for this third issue. Well, we say lean – dive headfirst might be more accurate. Electric elephants and robo-sharks, anyone?!

Duggan delivers another somewhat standalone piece here, albeit with another epilogue that shows that the story he is telling is anything but small. It’s skilfully balanced between moving the X-Men forward as the superhero team that they have once again become and reaping what they have sown following events stretching as far back as House of X/Powers of X. If Jonathan Hickman is the master of the long game, then Gerry Duggan is almost certainly his apprentice!

Until it’s quieter, continuity focused epilogue, this issue is essentially one big fight between the X-Men and the forces of ‘parasitic cockatiel’ The High Evolutionary, who turns up on Earth offering the mutants the chance to sterilise humanity, the greatest threat to the planet itself. It’s difficult to imagine what Xavier and Magneto’s answer to such an offer might have been in the early parts of Hickman’s run on the title; their actions were far from heroic at many points. But this team has very much cemented itself as a set of heroes from the get go, and the stage is set for a showdown that makes incredible use of the ever-impressive skills of artist Pepe Larraz. Every panel bursts with astonishing detail, but also big central focus points that leap out at the reader. This is an issue that’s worth a couple of extra read throughs – one to give justice to the pace that Duggan’s writing and Larraz’s broader strokes bring to proceedings, and another to take in every strange detail of the animalistic hordes that the X-Men face.

While the action itself is thrilling and The High Evolutionary makes for an intriguing villain, the route into the action does feel a tad rushed. It could have done with perhaps another page or two of lead in to dig a little more into the reaction of each of the mutants to the appearance of The High Evolutionary. While the standalone approach of each story month-on-month does work, in this instance it feels a little bit out-of-the-blue and the reasons for The High Evolutionary’s appearance on Earth are explained away all too quickly.

In contrast, the sub-plot of Orchis’ plans continues to be a slow-burn that leads to another excellent cliffhanger which hints at consequences aplenty for the actions of Charles Xavier over the past couple of years. The panels here are suitably moody and contrast in much the same way as the story at this point does to what came before – Pepe Larraz truly is one of the most versatile and talented artists in the Marvel stable.


VERDICT

Madness reigns in this third issue of Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz’s run and, boy, is it glorious. A slight misstep in the setup doesn’t detract from what is a simply eye-melting issue which foreshadows major upheaval both as a result of events way back and those that take place in this very issue. An issue of two halves, both of which are thoroughly entertaining.


Review by Nathan Harrison

X-Men #2 Review


X-MEN #2
Reviewed By Nathan Harrison

Written by: Gerry Duggan

Art: Pepe Larraz

Colours: Marte Gracia
Released: 04/08/21

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Some of the best science fiction out there is the sort that can impactfully and economically tell a completely standalone main story whilst also effectively driving forward a broader narrative arc – see Doctor Who, Space:1999 etc. This certainly seems to be the approach that Gerry Duggan is taking with his new run on X-Men so far and it’s proving to be a masterstroke.

After cutting themselves off from the rest of the world in recent times, the X-Men are back to protect humanity from a multitude of threats sent one by one by the hideous and menacing Cordyceps Jones. This ‘monster of the month’ method of storytelling is an incredibly effective way of re-establishing the X-Men as superheroes rather than a small part of a self-interested island nation and brings with it echoes of some of the best Saturday morning cartoons of years gone by. Duggan’s little slips into Stan Lee style narration only heighten the nostalgia and should leave any X-fan with the widest of grins on their faces.

The art from Pepe Larraz continues to be outstanding and fits perfectly with the heroic focus of Duggan’s narrative. Every panel leaps off the page, from the busiest, chaos-filled action scenes to the quietest, zoomed-in character moments as Larraz shows once again that he is the perfect artist to draw Marvel books. Marte Gracia’s colours are similarly accomplished – the brightest moments seem designed to make eyes pop out of sockets and the darker, understated panels give just the right level of spook to the surprising returning threat the X-Men face this time around.

While the bulk of the issue centres around the heroics of the team, its final few pages hint at a new and menacing threat, with ripples from events that took place right the way back at the beginning of ‘Head of X’ Jonathan Hickman’s tenure seemingly starting to spread. While the X books may have shifted from Dawn to Reign, it seems these two eras are not as distinct and separate as the marketing would suggest. Anyone in doubt about whether Hickman is still the master of the long game, watch this space.


VERDICT

The newest team of X-Men continue to cement themselves as the superheroes they should be in this second thrilling issue, which screams pure quality and class from its frankly stunning cover (if this isn’t used as the dust jacket for the inevitable omnibus, we riot) right through to its intriguing cliffhanger ending that throws right the way back to House of X; it seems consequences and new dangers are ahead for Marvel’s mutants. In short, this is exactly what a superhero comic should be.


Review by Nathan Harrison, 11/08/2021


Throwback Review – The Uncanny X-Men #146 – June 1981


THE UNCANNY X-MEN #146

Reviewed by Nathan Harrison


Written by: Chris Claremont
Art: Dave Cockrum and Jeff Rubinstein
Released: June 1981
Publisher: Marvel Comics



The thing about winning streaks is that inevitably, inexorably, undeniably they must, at some point come to an end.

The Uncanny X-Men #146 came just a few short months after not one but two of the most iconic, revered, and well-regarded X-Men stories of all time – The Dark Phoenix Saga (so good they filmed it twice – badly) and Days of Future Past.
Even those with the most passing knowledge of Marvel’s mutant heroes will likely have heard of these essential parts of comic book history and they, of course, form small parts of a record-breaking and essential 17 year run on X-Men by the incredible Chris Claremont. However, even the best in the business have their off days…

This issue comes slap bang in the middle of a 3 issue tale, which sees the X-Men rescuing their foe, Arcade, from the clutches of Fantastic Four big bad, Doctor Doom. An exciting premise on paper…until you remember that Arcade is involved. While his elaborate escape room antics could be seen as a precursor to horror legend Jigsaw, Arcade appears as something more akin to a Chucky doll stuffed into a white suit and polka-dot bow tie, a look which must have seemed dated even in 1981.

Even fairly recent appearances in The Amazing Spider-Man have failed to update him in a convincing way. He’s the sort of lame, ridiculous villain that the comics try to take seriously but who’s crying out for the kind of treatment DC have recently given to Polka Dot Man in the latest Suicide Squad movie – main adversary for Deadpool’s first MCU appearance anyone?

That said, while the majority of the traps that Arcade and Doom set for Banshee, Havok, Iceman and Polaris (as well as some of the more popularly known X-Men who feature briefly) are on the silly side, there are some mind-bending and borderline scary panels – one featuring a merry-go-round with living vampiric horses stands out, as well as the twisty checkerboard hell that Wolverine finds himself in. David Cockrum and Jeff Rubinstein do a solid job of conveying the terror – when the trap itself is actually in any way terrifying. Less impactful are Havok’s trip on what appears to be Space Mountain and the whole team sliding down the pipes from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Special mention must be given to a panel from one of the final pages, which sees Havok…well…just take a look at that pose. Naughty boy!

Well hello

VERDICT

Claremont certainly can’t be blamed for going for a lighter story after the earth-shattering and emotional events of what came before, but this one sadly misses the mark. What should be a fun romp turns out to be a bit of a slog, with only a few moments of levity and the occasional nightmarish panel (you decide which category that Havok one falls under!) to break up the tedium. However, that’s not to take anything away from a legendary run which will undoubtedly feature on every comic fan’s must-read list until the heat death of the universe.


Review by Nathan Harrison 5/8/21


X-Men #1 Review


X-MEN #1Review by Nathan Harrison

Written by: Gerry Duggan

Art: Pepe Larraz
Colours: Marte Gracia


Released: 07/07/21 Published by Marvel Comics

The last couple of years’ worth of X-output headed up by mutant mastermind Jonathan Hickman has, quite rightly, been showered with praise. Fans have been treated to something all new and all different across the whole stable of X-related titles, creating a unique, morally complex, interwoven saga of the sort that only Hickman, the master of the long game, could conjure up. While that opus is continuing apace (the Reign of X era is now in full swing), this new run of the core title takes a more back-to-basics approach, firmly re-establishing the X-Men as what they have always been first and foremost – superheroes.

Following some time in isolation on the sovereign mutant island of Krakoa, mutantkind has now reintroduced itself to the world with the events of the Hellfire Gala and the one-shot Planet Size X-Men. The need-to-know elements of these are covered enough so as not to distract but also to fill new readers in sufficiently to enjoy this new run. While this title will likely still form a part of the bigger picture, those who want something a little more classic from their comics will lap this first issue up – veteran Deadpool scribe Gerry Duggan takes the reins and injects proceedings with a sense of playfulness and childlike glee, deploying hints of Silver Age style narration and a fun team dynamic to make this really stand out from the last few years’ worth of Krakoan adventures. Oh, and the X-Men’s base in New York is an actual goddamn treehouse! Simply put, this new set up is grin-inducing.

What’s more, Marvel have chosen the perfect artist for this run. Pepe Larraz is one of the finest illustrators working in comics today – his work on other recent X-Men related titles with Jonathan Hickman such as House of X was astounding, bringing this most recent era to life from the very start. Here, thanks to Duggan’s no holds barred script, Larraz is allowed to go to town, bringing a sense of dynamism to every panel, ably assisted by colour artist Marte Gracia. His work within the X-Men world has been nothing short of definitive, and he shows no signs of stopping with this latest offering.

That’s not to say that the whole issue is sunshine and rainbows – a new threat reveals itself, prompted by the mutant nation’s terraforming of Mars, and Larraz shows that he can do disturbing, twisted imagery just as proficiently as action-packed superheroics. Chances are things are only going to get darker as the run goes on.


VERDICT

While ‘Head of X’ Jonathan Hickman’s sweeping vision for mutantkind continues to be utterly compelling, this new start for the flagship title acts as a refreshing pallet cleanser for those who like their X-Men action ripped straight out of the Claremont era or even the classic ‘90s cartoon. This title does and will undoubtedly continue to form a part of a wider, earth-shattering narrative, but for anybody who feels somewhat intimidated by the scope of the current X-Men range, Duggan’s X-Men makes for a solid jumping on point, with no indication as of yet that it won’t act perfectly well as a fun, escapist standalone piece for those who want in on this exhilarating and intriguing era.


Review by Nathan Harrison, 09/07/2021